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The "Job Description" Lesson is part of the full, Enterprise Engineering Management 102 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Ryan discusses the importance of creating a clear and concise job description. He also emphasizes the need for accurate job titles, a concise job summary, specific responsibilities and qualifications, and highlighting company culture. Also discussed is the potential inclusion of salary ranges and the importance of avoiding bias and using inclusive language in job descriptions. Finally Ryan suggests leveraging tools and getting feedback from others to improve job descriptions.

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Transcript from the "Job Description" Lesson

[00:00:00]
>> So now, we've decided what we need on the team, right? We're pretty clear, we have some ideas, I need to write that job description. I got to admit, it's not my most enjoyable thing. I don't know why, or I don't put a ton of time and effort in this.

[00:00:17] And so maybe I'm trying to tell you all to do better than me. But I think about it as it's just a piece of the puzzle. I'm more leaning towards, I want just enough information for someone to be excited enough to be, yeah, I fit that criteria, I'm excited, and then I can have a conversation with them.

[00:00:39] I find the conversation is very much what I wanna get to, but it is very important to have a really good job description that helps build up that conversation. Let's start with the job title. Let's have job titles that accurately explain what the role is as simple as possible and avoid all the acronyms and all the fun, joyful things that companies have.

[00:01:08] Netflix has tons of them, and we don't need to necessarily say that out to you all if you're applying, because it doesn't make sense to you. I also think another important one. This is probably one of the areas where I try to spend more of my time on, is building a really clear, concise job summary.

[00:01:26] It's that TLDR. Someone's looking to apply that hopefully they saw the title that resonated with them, and then there's this really quick blurb of, what is the role? And in the importance of it, what's the impact that they're gonna have on the company? And then you wanna start to kinda get into that like, yeah, primary purpose of the role, some of the objectives, then you can start to think about highlighting those key responsibilities for the role.

[00:01:56] List out the main duties, tasks. You don't need 30 tasks, maybe it's 10, maybe 15, it's getting up there, and you can use action verbs. I had never thought about this one, but I started doing that a little bit in some of my job descriptions. But you can say you'll manage the codebase for X, Y, and Z, you'll develop tools that enable other developers at the company.

[00:02:24] You'll help coordinate with your design partners. It helps that job applicant really understand, just that wording can really help them understand what they'll be doing. And you u wanna be very specific and avoid the vague language. This is where being pretty clear and concise, even bullet points are very good just someone can really get a quick glance of what that role is.

[00:02:48] You wanna be clear about what's required and what are the required qualifications? Just be upfront. If you need someone who knows React, put that there. They've had experience with it, that's important. But also, my last bullet point there, be realistic on the job requirements. I have seen this.

[00:03:10] I have definitely seen where someone's, it's probably was a mistake that they didn't realize, but you need 20 years of React experience. I'm sorry, React is not 20 years old, so I'm not sure how that would happen. It's things like that. You can turn off a candidate pretty easily, but it's also unrealistic.

[00:03:30] Nobody has that, the creators of React don't have that. And then you can also put what's preferred and what's required to I like to separate those types of skills or requirements is kind of surfacing maybe some of those additive skills. You have strong communication, you're you're able to present public speak.

[00:03:53] Maybe that's just a nice additive thing. I can help someone be excited about that role, but it's not a requirement and so make that very clear and concise, Jim.
>> Got a spicy one for you, right? Yeah.
>> What are your thoughts on putting the salary ranges on job descriptions?

[00:04:09]
>> I like it, I think it's a nice way to, if you have expectations on a salary, I think that is really helpful. You don't necessarily have to opt though or after a phone call and waste time in that if they're not paying. If you're being paid top of market in your current company, that might be something you want to keep getting paid if you're moving to another company.

[00:04:32] So I think it's helpful. I don't think it's as helpful sometimes, now we have requirements. I know in California, that's one requirement that companies are having to post that. It doesn't give you a tonne of clarity. I've noticed companies are putting a really broad range. It's not really that helpful at that time.

[00:04:51] So I like the sentiment of it, but it also varies, right? I don't wanna be locked in to someone, if I say you're gonna get paid $10 million, well, it's not gonna happen. I wish software engineers got paid that, that would be amazing. But it's like you don't wanna be locked in cuz you also might decide that you want someone more experienced or less experienced while you're interviewing that might adjust, and so you don't wanna be locked in.

[00:05:18] It's not to say that you're wanting to lowball someone or anything, but it can just muddy that up a bit. So I think setting expectations is good. I think the whole you can get paid $1 to a $1 million dollars is such an extreme range.
>> Just as an anecdote, I would also encourage folks to take it with a grain of salt.

[00:05:42] Because I have seen on a lot of postings that there's a big disclaimer that said, this is what we're targeting, but it's based on geography and remote preferences and all these other factors. And friend of mine just went through a round of interviews and one of them, they got to the final round of interviews and they're like we wanna hire you.

[00:06:04] This was after weeks of round after round of phone calls, in-person, video chat, and they're getting to salary negotiations and they're like, we can't pay you what you're asking for. And he's like, well, but that's what was on the job description. And they're like, yeah, we posted that bit, we don't really wanna pay people that.

[00:06:26] It was basically their answer. [LAUGH]
>> Okay, I feel really sorry for you.
>> So yeah, yes, take it with a grain of salt and and ask those questions. If it's really an important thing for you to make your move, then be really clear about that upfront on the on the screening call.

[00:06:45]
>> I would say that first initial call, some depends on the company. It might be actually even not even company, sometimes I'm the first call where I'm reaching out to someone. That's a good conversation for someone to just ask. Let's get those expectations upfront, and there again, they may not give you a solid.

[00:07:03] You will pay exactly this because it depends on how the interview goes and all those there's factors there. But yeah, trying to get that upfront is really just a high level. Cuz if they're way off, you're like, okay, that might be the end point and that we should just end the conversation now and you're saving yourself time and you're saving others time, too.

[00:07:23] Another thing that often things is posted its base salary, right? It's the cash, and so that's really hard. Some companies pay all cash, some companies pay more cash, less cash, but there's stock options and that can vary too. And so even having that conversation upfront, you can kind of understand how the compensation is broke down.

[00:07:47] And then understand, they're gonna reward me a lot of stock or hey, they can't meet my expectations on cash, but they're willing to negotiate on that comp. And sorry, on the stock options, these things are really important to have those early conversations. So I'm glad you all brought that up.

[00:08:09] All right, I think this is this is one I feel like companies don't always do. I've often seen where job titles, sorry, job descriptions aren't highlighting the company culture. I think this is really important. Celebrate the things that are good about your company.. Maybe it's the benefits and things that are available, but even just how you like to work and what are things that you all like to do as a team?

[00:08:33] Maybe there's a team dynamic that you really like, this is a great time to kinda celebrate and share that. People join companies for culture, too. They don't wanna be just joining for the tech, or there's a lot of factors that go into that. So highlighting the company culture is a really good one to do.

[00:08:52] If you have toxic culture, maybe avoid putting that. But be realistic and say maybe in the interviews you talk about where you're working to improve. Being transparent is really good. Another thing to think about is being inclusive and then try to avoid bias. This is hard. I mean, I definitely made mistakes, my God, I didn't write that well, and there's ways that you can avoid it.

[00:09:17] Obviously, just thinking about it can help, but get people to review. Lean on your team. If you look at this job description I wrote. I like throwing things in a Google doc, people can comment, make suggestions. But yeah, you're not in this by yourself, bring others and leverage your recruiting partner.

[00:09:36] I think this is really important. There's also, I think, I call it out later, I'm gonna call it now, too is, there's even tools that help. There's one that I've used called Textio, and that's how you pronounce it. It will work for anything, but you can put a job description in there and it will highlight some words that could change to make something more inclusive.

[00:09:57] You want to be open to anyone being able to apply. Yeah, so avoid using gender specific pronouns like, he will be a great engineer on the team or that's why. Just say they, or them, or just other words. If someone reads that, they're gonna already feel like it's not speaking to them.

[00:10:22] And you'd be surprised, it seems pretty straightforward, but a lot of companies have done this. Avoid mentioning age related preferences. I don't see this one is often, but something to think about. Just in the example there, we are seeking a young dynamic developer. You don't need the young there, maybe dynamic developer is not the great greatest either, but just things like that.

[00:10:50] It's really truly thinking about how the language is being read. This is the one I think, go ahead.
>> Going to the young dynamic developer, there's a lot of companies that will post things like new grad, do you think that kind of falls into that still? I would call it a new grad then, right?

[00:11:07] Be specific on that. Maybe it's new college grad or it's right out of school, minimal years of experience, those types of things is your right, that is true but young. I mean, you could be going second career, right? I have an engineer on my team, actually, a couple that have gone through.

[00:11:27] They started out one was in sales and is now an engineer. I mean, they're young, but they're not. It can speak wrong to them in that sense, and it can be in a little bit exclusive in that sense. But yeah, good call out. I'm not a fan of any job description that says, ninja, rockstar, guru.

[00:11:51] It turns me off reading that. So maybe someone gets excited on this one, but I don't think a lot of people do. So just avoid that. It's not really specific either, it's interpretive, right? What's a ninja? What's a rockstar? Hard to tell, so try and just avoid those words.

[00:12:12] Any other words that you've seen that would be ones that you would avoid in a job description? I know I've sometimes too have seen maybe on the inclusive side of we wanna be able to grab beers as a team and things like that. That's not very inclusive. It's like, we're hiring to be buddies.

[00:12:35] You wanna like people you work with and enjoy working with them, but you don't necessarily have to grab beers with them. Maybe they don't drink, or maybe that's not their thing, Mark.
>> On a side note, what do you look for in new grads or early junior devs?

[00:12:52]
>> Yeah, that's a really good question. You want to look for, my first thing I'm gonna highlight from earlier, aptitude is a big one. Absolutely want someone who's wanting to learn, who shows up with curiosity, that's a big one. You don't know everything. There's no way. I mean, I don't know everything and I've been doing this for a really long time.

[00:13:13] Nobody does, but especially when you're a new college grad, there's just gonna be a ton of things that you don't know. But being curious and asking questions, that really resonates with me. Having obviously some sort of experience doing the task at hand can help, but you don't need years of experience.

[00:13:32] Clearly, it's a new college grad, I can't have that expectation. So having those clear expectations, but aptitude and curiosity will time and time again. That's not even the technical skills, that's literally a skill that I look for. So leverage some tools, there are tools out there. I'm sure there's many that I'm not even thinking about, but I mentioned Textio earlier that it really just highlights and it's helped me just flag things that I didn't even think about.

[00:13:57] I mean, we've got so much AI now too like ChatGPT definitely helped make things more concise, more clear, word it better, leverage those tools. Maybe you tell it to write your whole job description. I don't know if that's gonna be perfect, but it's a good starting point.